I mentioned in this post that I’m reading For the Sake of His Name by Dave Doran & Pearson Johnson. In chapter 5, Doran addresses the relationship between social work and evangelism, both from recent history and from Scripture. The chapter sheds light on the prolonged discussion I and others had with Dr. Doran in the comments section of this thread almost a year ago.
In chapter 5 of For the Sake of His Name, Doran criticizes the shift of evangelical missions from proclamation of gospel truth to holistic/social/incarnational ministry. He explains that the shift took place in the mid-70’s as a result of the Congress for World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974. The spearhead of the movement away from proclamational ministry to incarnational (proclamational + social) ministry following that conference was John Stott, so Doran spends most of this chapter critiquing the exegesis and theology behind Stott’s teaching. I won’t repeat the arguments here, but it’s a compelling read.
This chapter is very helpful in understanding the concern of Doran and others that the church is once again beginning to focus its attention on non-proclamational ministry, especially since he notes that he has “heard many of these same arguments beginning to filter into fundamentalist preaching and teaching on missions and evangelism.” (p. 102)
One more thing: this message from the National Church Planting Conference makes a pretty strong case that the idea of pre-evangelism has some serious theological problems—as though our kindness will somehow make it easier for spiritually blind men to see the glorious light of the gospel. The idea of “building a bridge” prior to communicating the gospel may have some theological problems you haven’t yet considered. Taking the time to read this chapter and hear the message would be worth your while.